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Just like the maze that Dolores and the Man in Black were equally eager to find in the dusty deserts of Westworld, the first season of HBO’s hit sci-fi drama functioned as a kind of labyrinth for viewers, with fresh mysteries and plot twists lurking around every corner. And as fans went on the journey, they developed elaborate theories about the most seemingly minor of things, from the theme park’s logo to the color of a character’s hat. As Westworld star Jeffrey Wright discovered, there was even a theory that “proved” his character, Programming Division chief Bernard Lowe, was one of the park’s robot hosts because he always had a pair of glasses perched on the end of his nose.
As we know now, of course, Bernard is a host…but the glasses have nothing to do with that reveal. Lowe discovers his actual identity in Westworld‘s ninth episode, “The Well-Tempered Clavier,” and promptly explodes at his creator, Robert Ford (Anthony Hopkins), who built him as the robotic reincarnation of his old friend and colleague, Arnold Weber.
“There was an evolution to the performance,” Wright explains in Yahoo TV’s “My Scene to Remember” Emmy series. “Coming from the theater, I tend to try and build on the previous take. It was really taking the time until it erupts physically. It was an opportunity to show the full range of this newly discovered Bernard — not solely this kind of Clark Kent, but also this Frankensteinian Superman as well.”
Wright adds that his approach complemented the acting style of his scene partner. “Like me, [Hopkins] comes from the theater, so he very much wants to shape the space in a way that makes organic sense for him as an actor. I think I’ve described him as your morning double espresso,” Wright says. “At 6:45 or 7:00 in the morning he’s bringing it — always impeccably prepared and ready to be open to the moment.”
That’s all well and good… but about those glasses again. “The glasses were a really simple thing,” Wright says. “Basically, Bernard has his tablet, which he reads, and then he looks up so he doesn’t walk into any glass doors. [With the glasses], I can read the tablet and I can see the glass door. Simple. It’s reading glasses, for the younger folks out there.”
Okay, so maybe we all went a bit overboard on the glasses theory. But can you blame us? After all, Westworld is the kind of show that courts that kind of intense speculation. For his part, Wright says he didn’t have to do any dot-connecting; creators Jonah Nolan and Lisa Joy told him that Bernard was a host not long after he filmed the pilot episode. “One of the reasons I was made aware of Bernard’s throughline was because there are little bread crumbs that are left along the way early on in the season,” he says. “If you go back and look, they’ll probably shine a little bit brighter than they shined at first. You’ll see them now as DayGlo!”
At the same time, the actor says that being looped in early on about Bernard’s secret didn’t lessen the shock value of the reveal. “My reaction was ‘Nuh-uh,'” he remembers. “When Jonah and Lisa and I exchanged e-mails after I read the pilot script, [I wrote], ‘I want to be a part of this journey on which we discover Ford is a creation of Bernard Lowe. And Jonah e-mailed me back and said, ‘Close, Colonel, but no cigar!’ I was curious where we might go with some of these reveals, but I didn’t expect it would be me.”
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